In the 17th century the Steinzimmer were the largest and most important sequence of rooms in the Residenz. The rooms take their name from the extensive use of marble and imitation marble in their decoration.
The rooms lie on the west side of the Kaiserhof, an area of the Residenz built from 1611 onwards by order of Duke Maximilian I. The Steinzimmer were not for the Duke's own use. Instead, they were reserved for the Holy Roman Emperor and his wife when they visited Munich. Only on such occasions were tapestries and furniture installed in the rooms. The furniture on display here now belonged to the Wittelsbachs but was not made specially for the Steinzimmer.
The whole sequence of rooms was destroyed in the Second World War, and in the decades following 1945 a great deal of effort went into recreating them as they must have looked in the 17th century.
Ornate table with semiprecious
stone inlays (Pietra Dura); Florence,
between 1623 and 1627/30
Among the finest pieces of furniture in the Residenz is an unusual ornate table with semiprecious stone inlays. The top was commissioned from a Florentine workshop by Maximilian I, probably in 1623 to mark Bavaria's rise in status to an Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire.
Its main feature are four large and eight smaller panels consisting of single pieces of dark-blue lapis lazuli with inclusions of gold. These extremely valuable panels frame the Bavarian coat of arms in the centre and the monogram ME, the initials of Maximilian and his wife, Elisabeth of Lorraine.
Tapestry "Homage of the Bavarian Estates",
Hans van der Biest after cartoons by
Peter Candid, Munich 1611
Today, the most important furnishings in the Steinzimmer are the series of ten tapestries depicting the heroic deeds of Otto of Wittelsbach, the first Duke of Bavaria from the Wittelsbach family. Commissioned by Duke Maximilian I, the tapestries were designed by the court painter Peter Candid and woven from 1604 to 1611 by the Dutch tapestry-weaver Hans van der Biest.
Maximilian I possessed more than 300 tapestries. Court inventories always listed the Otto of Wittelsbach series first, because of its precious materials, its subject-matter and its artistic quality.
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